We’ve posted over 150 different written reviews on our site since 2016. Of those, Dave’s review of Everdell is by far and away the most popular review we have published. Our unboxing of the Everdell: Complete Collection went viral the day we posted it. Why is Everdell so popular?
My best guess is that tableau games with beautiful art and combo gameplay appeal to a very wide spectrums of gamers. Most gamers like card games. Most gamers like to feel clever. Many gamers like the tactile feel of exchanging realistic looking resources. Add all of these up and Everdell touches a lot of favorable buttons in our hobby.
But as “cute” as Everdell is, it’s just a little too much for my two beginning gamers. Gabby and Evelyn aren’t strong readers yet, so any card game that relies on a ton of text is going to be a struggle for us to play. That’s why I was pretty excited to receive My Lil’ Everdell the other day.
The “My Little” is an obvious homage to the success that Stonemaier Games had with “My Little Scythe.” By now, you know the story. A father and his young daughter came up with the idea of transposing Scythe, the wildly successful euro-meets-area control game from Jamey Stegmaier, into a family friendly, thirty minute pie throwing game.
My Little Scythe was a big hit with our grand bugs even before they started playing games. They loved the little characters and moving around the board, content with telling stories about what the “heroes” were doing. We all knew it would not take long for other publishers to see the success of baking their more complicated game recipes into kids’ size morsels. (And I’m still waiting on Stonemaier to announce more games in the line. My Little Viticulture, anyone??)
My Little Scythe wasn’t the first to convert a bigger experience into a family friendly game (just throw “my first” into BGG’s search tool to see a list of a half-dozen other titles). And it’s not not really fair to compare the too “my little” games, but it’s hard not to discuss them since they share a similar title. Let’s focus first on what My Lil’ Everdell does well, and give a little background on the game.
My Lil’ Everdell is a 2022 release from Starling Games designed for up to four players by James A. Wilson and Clarissa A. Wilson, the original designers of Everdell. It has gorgeous art on the cover and cards from Andrew Bosley and Jacqui Davis. The game comes with four different meeples (butterflies, foxes, lizards, and mice), some dice, tons of resources, and four cute little supply crates for the resources that you have to put together.
If I am going to introduce a family friendly version of a popular card game like Everdell to the kiddoes, especially one that is so resource management heavy, it not only has to have visual appeal like Everdell, but it needs to scale back a bit on the cognitive overload.
Scaled back? Check. My Lil’ Everdell reduced the amount of resources, taking out the normally hard to get pebbles. Players are grabbing either berries or wood sticks or resin. The reason is pretty evident, because My Lil’ Everdell focuses on the two core cards — characters (using berries) and constructions (using the twigs). So, my little grand bugs only needed to think about whether they wanted more people in the village or more places for them to live and interact.
The other scaling back we see is in how we get and use the resources. In the main game, the myriad of ways that cards come from the giant deck into the villages can be overwhelming for new gamers. My Lil’ Everdell successfully drills this down to simple mechanics. Players roll dice at the start of the round, and the dice dictate what kinds of resources that are available. If players have any green cards in play — they will, of course, because that type of card is a big focus in the game — they will get those bonuses.
Then the fun begins. In the main game, players can play cards out of their hand by exchanging resources, or play cards straight from the Meadow if they meet the requirements. They might use one of their meeples to grab a resource spot, or spend cards, or claim victory points, or interact with the expansions. There are a ton of choices.
In My Lil’ Everdell, choices are refined two place a meeple on one of the resource spots AND can also play a card. That sequence makes sense to little gamers. Grab some stuff, and then play a card. The whole grab-stuff-wait-turns riff is something we as adults are used to in gaming, but little ones like the immediacy.
Sure, the grand bugs still have to consider the long term effects of playing some of their cards, because of the different types. My Lil’ Everdell still comes with a variety of cards, like paw prints that give you more action spaces or flowers that score end-game points. But the one-two punch of getting berries or wood and scanning the cards to meet the requirements is much simpler.
The final scaling back is in how the points are scored. The flower cards are all pretty simple to understand, like getting end-game points for red cards or green cards. There are also “parade” tiles, which are scaled down versions of the festival bonuses from the main game. The four types of parades here are so easy to teach: get places, get critters, get all give colors of cards, or get three cards of the same color.
One of the best things about My Lil’ Everdell is how quickly the games move. There are only four rounds, and much less upkeep between rounds than we see in the base game. Each turn is lightning quick — grab some resources and match them to a card in the meadow. No more worries about hand size limits or shedding cards, because everybody plays from the same market of cards which get replaced immediately every time one is moved into a player’s own village.
There is even some lagniappe. The game comes with two extra types of cards that are handed out to the younger, less experienced players: captains and forts. Each card gives a way to jumpstart a younger player’s tableau in the race for parades during the game and in the collection of resources at the start of each round. The cards are optional, but are a fun way to even out the skill sets that adults and kids bring to the table.
Is My Lil’ Everdell only good to play with kids? Surprisingly, it is not. My wife and I enjoyed playing this together as a quick fifteen minute filler game. She was so intrigued by the resource management and point scoring that she asked me to teach her Everdell, and we’ve played Everdell together and with friends. That’s a win / win in my book. I’ve also talked to friends who have a copy, and have one who actually thinks My Lil’ Everdell fires the base game in his collection.
As a family game, this is a high recommendation from me. In fact, I think it translated the base game into something familiar and friendly to young gamers even better than did My Little Scythe. The game is super easy to teach, plays in a brisk manner, and looks gorgeous on the table, all familiar elements for any game that will be attractive to families.
As a euro game? While it’s not a bad filler for me and SneauxBunny to play, there are a ton of games I’d rather play with her. In fact, now that she is playing Everdell on a regular basis, I don’t think she’s going to ever suggest My Lil’ Everdell instead. That’s not a knock on My Lil’ Everdell at all, just a recognition that we prefer the meatier experience. But when we have the kids over for game night, we are going right back to My Lil’ Everdell.
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
— BJ from Board Game Gumbo
A complimentary copy of the game was provided by the publisher.